Can I be charged with a crime if I was forced into committing it?



    person in handcuffs

    Generally speaking, individuals view themselves as law-abiding citizens, except for minor offenses like exceeding the speed limit or jaywalking occasionally. However, when someone employs force to make another person partake in criminal activities by putting their life or the lives of their family at risk, they will go to great lengths to ensure their safety and that of their loved ones. Essentially, they may be forced to break the law. Fortunately, the law recognizes that threats of violence may make even the most reasonable individuals do out-of-character things to protect themselves or their loved ones from imminent danger. Therefore, if you have committed a crime because you were under duress, it is in your best interest to retain the legal services of our seasoned Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorneys, who can help you avoid criminal charges. 

    What happens if you are forced to commit a crime?

    In New York, while being under duress does not justify committing a crime, it can provide you with an excuse for facing criminal charges as you were threatened with the use of physical force. If you were coerced into committing a crime, the duress defense could provide a legal defense to help you avoid criminal penalties for breaking the law. However, your attorney must be able to prove that another person in that same position would also have committed the crime.

    Further, they will have to prove that you reasonably believe that if you failed to commit the crime, you or someone else would die. It is critical to note that the duress defense only applies when an individual faces an imminent threat of death or serious harm through the actions or words of another person. This type of threat does not have to be explicitly stated. If someone holds a deadly weapon such as a gun or knife to you, it is considered an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. In cases where you were coerced into committing a crime through blackmail or threatened to burn your house down does not apply as there is no imminent threat of danger to a person’s life. Ultimately, someone’s life must be at stake for the duress defense to be applicable.

    Is the duress defense admissible in murder cases?

    Nevertheless, the duress defense cannot be used to argue against murder charges. Essentially, New York laws govern that one person saving someone’s life does not excuse the taking of another person’s life. However, there are some instances in which exceptions apply to this rule. For example, if you were forced to harm another person and they died from their injuries, the duress defense may be used because you did not intend to kill them.

    If you have been coerced to break the law, contact a qualified Nassau County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our firm is prepared to fight vigorously to prove duress to avoid criminal charges.


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